72-hour cabins, Sweden
© Henriks Holm, vastverige.com© Henriks Holm, vastverige.com
How do you fancy an overnight stay deep in the heart of the forest, surrounded by Swedish nature up close? Dalsland in west Sweden now has a network of what are called 72-hour cabins, each in effect a glass-walled cottage, dotted around the province in prime remote locations, allowing you to experience nature at first hand. Tests have shown that a stay of anything up to three nights in the glass cabins radically reduces stress and anxiety levels and leads to a drop in blood pressure and an increased sense of well-being. By day, there are plenty of activities on hand like canoeing, fishing, hiking or swimming, while by night you can drift off to sleep observing the stars through your glass roof.
The Welsh Matterhorn Cave, Wales
© Phoebe Smith/Neil S Price
It’s rare you’ll find a hotel slap bang in the middle of the mountains – and even rarer that it will boast four stars. But that’s exactly what you’ll discover near the foot of a peak called Cnicht in North Wales. OK, so maybe the star rating isn’t exactly official, and perhaps the beds are a little harder than you might hope and the bathroom more… al fresco. But still, if stars were awarded for location alone, the night’s accommodation that awaits you on this escapade would easily merit a confident five.
© Tarja Mitrovic, Wikimedia Commons
The hotel and igloo village of Kakslauttanen is a real gem. A good 250km north of Rovaniemi, it has easily the best choice of log cabin accommodation in the whole of Finnish Lapland and makes for a great place to spend Christmas. It isn’t really a village; it is little more than an idyllic collection of log cabins and, during the winter season, a gaggle of igloos, beautifully located either side of a small river, directly beside Route 4, where a hole in the ice is kept open for those early morning dips. Kakslauttanen also boasts the largest smoke sauna in the world with a capacity of around 100 people.
House in the Clouds, Suffolk
© Roe Edwards, VisitBritain
Thorpeness’ iconic landmark – it appears on Suffolk guidebooks as readily as Cley-next-the Sea’s windmill does to represent Norfolk – is the House in the Clouds, a wooden house on a high, five-storey plinth. The plinth was originally a disguised water tower but once mains water had been installed in the village, it was converted into further living accommodation and a games room. You can rent it – very expensively.
Tented camps at Lompoul, Senegal
© elisabethandi, Dreamstime
Just north of Lompoul village in the far west of the country, you’ll find a trio of rather confusingly named tented camps located in the dunes – Le Camp du Desert, Ecolodge de Lompoul and Lompoul Desert Lodge. The desert camps typically operate on a half-/full-board basis, as there aren’t exactly many places to pop out for a quick bite over the next sand dune. The wide Mauritanian khaïma tents are pitched on the sand in true nomadic style and meals are taken at long, low tables surrounded by cushy Moroccan leather ottomans and lanterns.
Houseboats of Srinagar, Kashmir
© J&K Tourism
If you take home one image of Srinagar, it’ll be of India’s floating palaces, the houseboats of Dal and Nagin lakes. Stay just one night afloat and you’ll see why the colonial British hired boats for months on end; take a shikara ride among the lotus gardens and you’ll probably never want to leave.
Mandina Lodges, The Gambia
© Ariadne Van Zandbergen
One of the most inspired and exclusive lodges in the country, Mandina Lodges is spaciously laid out on the south bank of the creek for which it is named. The common area features a large jungle-shaded swimming pool, the imaginative architecture and décor of the tall thatch-roofed dining area and bar, and the wide wooden deck overlooking a mangrove-lined stretch of creek teeming with birdlife. The solar-powered accommodation is all fantastic, and you have the choice of a pagoda-like floating river lodge, a thatch-topped stilted river lodge, or a double-storey jungle lodge set a little inland. All guests have personal guides, who can take them on canoe trips through the mangroves (where there’s a good chance of encountering rarities such as white-backed night heron & African finfoot), relaxed walks through the forest, or a range of other activities.